The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 75 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, the lowest daily count since the nationwide level 3 alert was issued last month.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the 75 local infections are 35 males and 40 females, aged from under five to over 80, and they began experiencing symptoms between June 8 and Sunday.
New Taipei City reported 38 cases, followed by Taipei with 22, Taoyuan with five, Miaoli County with three, Keelung and Taichung with two each, and Kaohsiung, Yunlin County and Changhua County with one each, CECC data showed.
The CECC also reported 20 deaths, 14 men and six women, who were aged from their 50s to their 90s, all of whom had underlying health conditions.
Of the 15 cases reported outside of Taipei and New Taipei City, the infection sources of all the cases had been identified, while contact tracing was being conducted.
While the situation is improving, wearing masks, washing hands and use of sanitizer must continue, Chen said.
The number of deaths remains high, but should fall in the coming days, he said.
Asked if the level 3 alert could be lowered on Monday next week, Chen said the issue is being discussed by various ministries and that the CECC would make an announcement when a decision is reached.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division, said that 11 of the 20 people who died had started having symptoms last month, and that the period between the onset of symptoms and death has extended to an average of 17 days.
Among the confirmed cases reported after April 20, 2,373 people, or 18.4 percent, had suffered severe pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome, Lo said, adding that 1,592 of them were aged 60 or older, or 35.4 percent of the confirmed cases in that age group.
There were 1,893 infected individuals being treated in designated COVID-19 hospital rooms as of noon yesterday, which is about 25 percent lower than the peak of 2,539 people on June 4, he said.
The number of infected patients in designated COVID-19 intensive care units has also dropped by 17 percent from a peak of 435 on June 7 to 383 as of noon yesterday, he added.
As significantly fewer COVID-19 patients had been hospitalized in the past week, the CECC has been moving some older infected people or those with underlying health conditions, who were in isolation in centralized quarantine facilities and enhanced quarantine hotels, to hospitals for better health monitoring, Lo said.
There are only about 1,270 people being isolated in centralized quarantine facilities and enhanced quarantine hotels, fewer than the number of patients hospitalized, he said.
Hospital and Social Welfare Organizations Administration Commission Director Wang Pi-sheng (王必勝), who on June 4 was assigned by the CECC to head a command center in Miaoli County after cluster infections were reported among workers at several electronics companies, said that the situation at the companies has been brought under control.
A total of 471 confirmed cases — 71 Taiwanese and 400 foreigners — had been found at eight factories and 26,250 tests had been performed on employees in the past 18 days, Wang said.
In related news, after a cluster of 45 infections associated with Taipei Agricultural Products Marketing Co had been reported since May 14, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday said that the city government would administer COVID-19 vaccines to about 4,000 people associated with the company over the next three days.
However, vaccination is a preventive measure, not a treatment, and it would take at least two weeks for people to build resistance against the virus, Ko said, adding that contact tracing, testing and placing high-risk people in isolation would still be necessary to bring the outbreak under control.
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